Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingA new report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse at Columbia University finds that prescription drug abuse in the US has nearly doubled since 1992. When most of us think of drug abuse, we think of street drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine, but this new report says that those problems pale in comparison to the abuse of prescription drugs.
The number of prescription drug abusers has skyrocketed to more than 15-million people in the past decade, according to this study. The report says Americans are abusing more controlled prescription drugs than cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined.
More than 2-million of those abusers are teenagers. The study points to so-called "pharming parties" where teens swap prescription drugs. While parents have historically put locks on liquor cabinets, researchers say they should also lock up the medicine cabinet.
Susan Foster, National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse: "Parents are trained to keep these drugs away from toddlers, but not their teens. They don't think about that. They may need to lock their medicine cabinets. They may need to watch their teens' internet activity. But we know that parents are the most under-utilized resource we have in our fight to prevent substance abuse."
According to the study, the substances most likely to be abused are pain relievers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, central nervous system depressants such as Valium and Xanax, and steroids. The problem is that the drugs are widely available, in medicine cabinets in many homes and on the Internet, and availability is the big driving force behind widespread abuse.